This is my least favorite post I do every year because I don't like dwelling on the negative stuff, but because there is a lot of misleading information out there on this topic that I feel like having all of the attacks in a central location will at least allow people to have easy access to the actual data.
Before I get into the information, there are a couple of things that I want to note:
1) Fatal incidents are extremely rare. With about 75 million dogs in the US, and 32 fatal dog attacks each year, they are such a statistically anomaly that decisions on "breed" aggression should not be based on such rare incidents. By comparison, the US Population is 300 million (4x the dog population) and saw over 16,000 murders (500x the number of dog-related deaths). If only humans could be close to as safe as dogs.
2) When you look at fatal incidents, the circumstances surrounding them usually follow a couple of different criteria that will become obvious when you read. It is my hope that by seeing the circumstances behind the attacks we can eliminate many future attacks so these tragedies can be avoided.
3) If people track bite information only by breed, without tracking the information by circumstances, the only correlation they can come up with for attacks is by breed and have missed the most obvious conclusion.
4) The vast majority of my data, including breed ID, comes from media sources, so they come with the inherent ID issues that come from visual breed identification and from media mis-reporting.
5) The difference in media exposure for the different breeds of dogs is extremely notable.
So with that, here are the years attacks. The attacks are listed chronologically, -- and links go to my original writeup.
Chyenne Peppers- 5 years old - Thomasville, GA - was playing in the backyard alone with 3 'pit bulls' who were all chained in the backyard. One of the dogs was pregnant. The dogs broke their chains and attacked the victim. The incident happened in an area where people are 50% more likely to be living below the poverty line than the national average.
Alex Angulo- 4 years old - Chicago, IL - the boy was left alone in the back yard with 3 dogs while the father ran a snowblower out front. The dog that was blamed for the attack was a Rottweiler, although there were two other dogs on the property. The dogs appear to have been outside-only dogs.
Brooklynn Milburn- 3 years old - Ft. Worth, TX - Was playing in the back yard by herself and reportedly climbed through a hole in the fence into a neighbor's back yard where the neighbor's Rottweiler attacked her. The story ran in 170+ media outlets across the country.
Brianna Nicol Shanor- 8 years old - Beaver County, PA - The girl was staying at some friends' property and was attacked and killed by a "Rottweiler Mix" that was one of of several dogs on the property that were chained to an old camping trailer on the property. The attack occurred in an area with a very significant poverty issue.
Olivia Rozek- 3 weeks old - Bourbonnais, IL - the infant was apparently left alone in a bedroom and the family's Husky pulled the baby from the bed and into the hallway - -the child died from the injuries. The Story was reported in only 1 media outlet.
Unnamed - 2 weeks old - Mesa, AZ - the mother left the child alone to go to the restroom and while the mother was away, the family's Chow Chow bit the child...killing her. This story ran on only a couple of local news stations.
Hill A. Williams Jr - 38 years old - Rancho Mirage, CA - was attacked by two Bull Mastiffs. Authorities reported that the man may have been trying to separate the dogs who may have been breeding at the time and was attacked while trying to separate them.
Dustin Elija Fauk-ner - 3 years old - Wayne County, GA - The boy was out with his 5 year old sister when the neighbor's Husky broke its chain and attacked the small boy. This story ran in only one local newspaper.
Tyson Miller- 18 months old - Luling, TX - The boy woke up and wandered outside unsupervised at 12:30 in the afternoon while the rest of the family slept and up to a pregnant 'pit bull' that lived on a chain behind the home. The boy was attacked and killed by the dog and the boy's mother was charged with criminally negligent homicide in the case. Luling, TX is a small community with nearly double the national poverty rate. The story ran on more than two dozen news sources.
Izaiah Cox- 7 months old - San Antonio, TX - The young boy was being cared for by his grandmother who left the child alone when she went to the kitchen to get the infant some food. The boy was then attacked by two 'pit bulls' that lived in the home and were left alone with the boy. The grandmother later got indicted because the dogs had apparently attacked a different grandchild a couple of years prior. This particular zip code in San Antonio has a poverty level that is more than triple the national average with nearly 40% of the population living below the poverty line. The story was picked up by over 250 news outlets.
Michael Landry- 4 years old - Morganza, LA - Three Boxers that were owned by the neighbor got loose from their kennels while the kennels were being cleaned and attacked and killed the young boy. The poverty level in Morganza is 50% higher than the national average. The story was picked up by 3 local news sources.
Gordon Lykins- 48 - Winterhaven, AZ - The man was attacked by 11 "mixed breed" dogs that were roaming at large as Mr. Lykins took a walk along the canals in Arizona.
David Whiteneck, Jr - Adult - Dwight Township, MI - The man was attacked by three dogs that were described as Australian Shepherd/Blue Heeler crosses. The story was picked up by only a half dozen local news sources.
Leonard Lovejoy, JR- 11 months old - Eastpoint, MI - The boy was reportedly in bed with his parents when the family's dog - a 'pit bull mix' - attack the child. The dog had apparently shown aggression to strangers before. The story was picked up in over 300 media sources.
Barbara Chambers - 60 years old - Garland, TX - Ms. Chambers was attacked by her Great Dane. The dog was apparently an award-winning show dog, but had apparently been in fights before with her other dog, a standard Poodle. Friends of Ms. Chambers have speculated that the two dogs may have gotten into a fight and she had gotten in the middle of the fight. While a couple of media outlets covered the initial attack, none reported her actual death a few days later.
Gabrial Mandrell - 3 years old - Johnson City, IL - The parents apparently put the boy in bed and went into another room. The boy then knocked out a window screen and went out into the yard carrying a stuffed animal. The boy was then attacked by at least one of three dogs in the yard -- 2 pit bull mixes and 1 Collie mix- at least one of which was chained to a tree. The story was covered by 27 news sources.
Justin Clinton- 10 years old - Leverett's Chapel, TX - Was attacked by a neighbor's two "pit bulls" that jumped over a 3 foot tall fence that was being used to "contain" the dogs. The story ran in hundreds of news sources from around the country, including national media like USA Today.
Isreal Pope, Jr- 96 years old - Pickensville, AL - Pope was out for a walk and was possibly attacked by a pack of wild dogs -- although it is not 100% clear if Pope was attacked by the dogs before or after he died -- and officials were not sure if they would ever know. For the purposes of this report, I've included it as a dog bite fatality. Pickensville is a small community in Alabama with a poverty level 3x the national rate.
Carter Ridge Delaney- 20 years old - Leesburg, VA - Police think that Delaney's brother's "pit bull type" dog got inside (it was usually kept outdoors) and attacked his mother's Pug -- and that Delaney was injured (and killed) in an effort to protect the smaller dog. This story ran in 54 media outlets.
Lothar Karl Schweder (77) and Sherri Schweder (65) - Georgia - The couple went out for a walk to find their dog that had gotten loose and were apparently attacked by a group of 16 feral mongrel dogs that were badly malnourished and "very aggressive" toward humans.
Unnamed - 3 days old - Rio, WV - Apparently the mother saw the two family dogs "acting strangely" looking at the newborn boy and attempted to move the German Shepherd away from the infant and then the "pit bull" pulled the child off the bed....killing him.
Kathleen Doyle- 90 years old - Phoenix, AZ - Was attacked by an American Bulldog that got loose from its back yard and she died 6 days later. The attack was covered in only one media outlet.
Jasmine Dean - 23 months - Orange County, VA - The mother apparently became preoccupied while the young girl somehow got out of the house and wander up to a neighbor's 'pit bull' that was chained up in the back yard of their home. She was attacked by the dog and died.
Colton Smith- 17 months old - Merced County, CA - The young boy was staying at his babysitter's house when the sitter left him alone outside "for just a few moments" with the sitter's parent's dog who was staying with her temporarily. The dog was officially declared to be a pit bull/akita mix -- although it was called just a 'pit bull mix" in the majority of the 400 media outlets that covered the story.
Matthew Clayton Hurt- 2 years old - Prescott, AR - The toddler and his three year old brother were staying at their babysitter's house and wandered four blocks away. The younger child followed a little puppy into the back yard of a house four blocks away and ended up getting attacked by a chained up 'pit bull' that resided in the back yard. Prescott is a small town in in rural Arkansas with 1/3 of the population living below the poverty level -- which is 3x the national average (and 2x the state average). Prescott passed a breed ban only days after the boy's death.
Destiny Marie Knox - 16 months old - New Albany, MS - The child was staying at a babysitter's house when one of the five 'pit bulls' that was usually kept chained in the yard got free, got into the house and attacked the young girl. 20% of the people who live in New Albany live below the poverty line -- 66% higher than the national average.
Karen Gillespie - 53 years old - White Mills, KY - Gillespie went out to take pictures of a one room school house in the country when she was attacked by a White Boxer that was owned by Howard Miller. The dog had apparently attacked a US Census Worker who had come by the Miller's home earlier this year. The story was covered in 8 newspaper outlets.
Rosie Humphries- 85 years old - Flora, IL - Ms. Humphries was out walking her dog when a neighbor's 'pit bull' broke free from its collar and attack Humphries' dog and killed Humphries in the process. The dog was chained up in the yard using a massive log chain. The event was reported in 22 news outlets.
Lowell Bowden- 70 years old - Rural Lindside, WV - Bowden was out for a walk in the in the rural hills of the county when hunters found him getting attacked by a pack of four or five dogs that were roaming at large and were described as "pit bulls".
Dallas Walter(s)- 20 months old - New Port Richey, FL - Reports on this are so contradictory, but the majority of the sources indicate that the boy was staying with his family in his Great-Aunt's home when the Great Aunt's dog, a Rottweiler/Lab mix which was usually kept chained outside, got inside and apparently attacked the boy who was holding a cookie. The dog was new to the family and had lived with them for only 2 weeks.
Theresa An Ellerman - 49 years old - Norfolk, VA - Was bitten by an Alaskan Malamute owned by some friends she was visiting. The dog bit her in the neck and apparently due to quick and severe swelling, the woman lost the ability to breath quickly and died shortly after.
Liam Perk- 2 years old - Cape Coral, FL - The boy was apparently bitten by one of the family's two pet Weimaraners snapped at the boy and bit him in the neck and the boy died less than an hour later.
In total, there were 33 dog-bite related fatalities (32 events) in 2009.
-- 16 different dog breeds, or mixes thereof, were involved (counting 'mixed breed' as it's own category).
-- 9 cases involved chained dogs
-- 8 cases were in areas that were affected with high poverty rates
-- 4 cases involved packs of feral or near feral dogs
-- 3 involved newborns
-- of the 5 incidents that were covered by 150 media sources or more, 2 involved 'pit bulls', 1 involved a Rottweiler, 1 involved a pit bull/akita mix (that was widely reported as a 'pit bull mix') and 1 involved a Weimaraner.
-- There were 7 incidents that were covered by fewer than 6 media outlets, the breeds involved were Husky, Chow Chow, Husky, Boxers, Australian Shepherd/Blue Heeler mixes and a Great Dane.
Yes, apparently all attacks are not created equally in the eyes of the media.
The attacks fall into roughly 4 categories:
1) Children under 1 year of age: 5 fatalities -- 3 of the children were less than 3 weeks old. 3 different breeds of dogs were involved. Introducing a child into a family with a dog can be tricky, and takes a little dedication by the owners/parents. This is why I recommend any newly expecting parent to read sites dedicated to dog training with young children. I interviewedthe founder of one such organization, Jennifer Shyrock of Dogs & Storks earlier this year and this is a great first source for expecting parents who own dogs.
2) Children 1 year to 5 years -- I've chosen this division because this is roughly the area where children become mobile, yet are still too young to be truly able to deal with most situations unsupervised. 13 of the fatalities fell into this category -- 8 different breeds were involved. In 9 of the attacks, the child was left unsupervised -- in 4 of those, the child left the house under their own accord. Chaining appears to have played a role in 8 of the 13 attacks (I'll talk a little bit more about this in a separate post later in the week).
3) Older Children - 5-15 years of age - There were two attacks here, two different breeds of dogs involved. Chaining was a factor in one of the two attacks.
4) Adults - 12 victims here, in 11 different incidences. Nine different breeds of dogs involved. In 5 of the cases (6 victims), victims were attacked by a pack of dogs -- with anywhere from 3 to 16 dogs being involved. Most of these cases involved wild or feral dogs. In two of the cases, the victim got in the middle of two other dogs either fighting or breeding and was attacked. Four cases involved individual dogs (with four different breeds involved). Six of the victims were over the age of 65, with 3 of them being over the age of 85.
It appears that major improvements could be made in preventing these attacks if we did the following:
1) Worked harder to educate new parents how to socialize their pets with newborn children.
2) Emphasized supervising younger children when they interact with dogs.
3) End the process of leaving dogs chained 24/7 as their primary or sole form of containment.
4) Educate owners that early signs of aggression should be dealt with through training and socialization and not avoided. Many of the dogs involved had previously shown signs of aggression.
5) Deal with large packs of wild and feral dogs.
For more information:
2008 Dog Bite Fatalities (you'll see very similar circumstances in these attacks).
Later this week into next I'll be talking about one other factor in these attacks, as well as another dog bite study that has clearly decided to manipulate data in order to support a point of view.